Thursday, July 3, 2008

New England Patriots Training Camp 2008

So is it OK to mention the word "football" around Boston yet? Has time healed any of the wounds? Can Pats fans raise their heads up along with their hopes for the coming season, like a groundhog peaking out of the ground in early Februrary, or should they return to the darkness of their bunkers for six more weeks of a winter, spring, and summer of disappointment?

I seemed to have blacked out the last two minutes of Super Bowl XLII from my memory, which I think is a healthy way to deal with reality. The Red Sox Duck Tour Parade simply leads right into the Celtics Parade in my mind, and that works just fine.

So who's ready for some football? Training camp is right around the corner. The Patriots have just announced on their web site that camp will begin on Thursday, July 24. Rookies are due to report July 21 and veterans on July 23. Here is the TENTATIVE lineup for the first few days:

THURSDAY, JULY 24 8:45 - 10:30 a.m. Morning practice5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Evening practice
FRIDAY, JULY 25 2:30 - 4:30 p.m. Afternoon practice
SATURDAY, JULY 26 Training camp practices are closed to the public due to the New England Country Music Festival.
SUNDAY, JULY 27 8:45 - 10:30 a.m. Morning practice5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Evening practice
MONDAY, JULY 28 2:30 - 4:30 p.m. Afternoon practice

Assuming there are no changes to public access with this year's training camp, most practices should be open to the public through August 14. (Click here for a report from last year's training camp.) Most practices take place on the two practice fields behind the south end zone of Gilette Stadium.

Some days there are a morning and an evening session, and other days there is just a single session, often in the afternoon. The schedule is always tentative based on the desires of the coaching staff and oftentimes the weather. Therefore, if you're interested in going to see practice, by all means check the schedule on the Patriots web site and double-check it by calling the team's hot line at 508-549-0001.

The practice is free to attend, and the parking is free as well. There are concession stands that sell food, drinks, and beer. Be prepared to pay normal stadium prices for food and beverages, however, if you buy it there. In past years parking has been in lot 22 along the west side of the stadium and it's a short walk over to the fields.

Along the west side of the stadium has also been the Patriots Experience, filled with interactive games that allow fans to test their kicking, passing, and tackling skills on a variety of obstacle courses, football tosses, and other similar challenges. It's a popular draw for kids. And while you're in the area, you may also want to check out the stores at the ever-expanding Patriot Place.

There are bleachers along the side of one practice fields on which to sit. Another popular spot is on the hillside that lies behind the end zones of the practice field and in front of the stadium. The players enter and leave the field near that hillside, so it's a good spot to get autographs, and players will often sign along the front row of the bleachers when practice is over. Wherever you sit, you're pretty close to the action. If you have a camera with a good zoom lens, you should get some good shots. With last year's Spygate fiasco, however, maybe you should leave that video camera at home.

No comments: